Legal Missouri Poker Laws

A Guide to Poker in the State of Missouri

Missouri Gambling Laws

In this guide to poker in Missouri, you will first find a brief history of gambling regulations in the State. Next I look at the specific State laws relating to poker. Then the opportunities for live players are looked at before you can find out how this State regards online poker.

A Brief Overview of Missouri’s Gambling History

Gambling was introduced to Missouri by the early settlers who enjoyed poker games in the saloons and on the infamous steamboats which travelled along the Mississippi river. This came to an end after the Civil War where gambling restrictions pushed games underground. For many years the only gambling permitted was pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, until the 1980s saw charity gambling and lotteries legalized.

It was 1992 when Missouri welcomed back the riverboat casinos that traditional table games and poker came back to the State. Originally these had to be moving, however amid safety fears this was changed and the boats now remained docked, allowing patrons to come and go as they please. These have since been joined by two tribal casinos in Seneca.

Is Poker Legal in Missouri?

Poker falls under Missouri’s broad categorization of gambling under Section 572-010 of the Statute.

“…the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence…”

While arguing that poker is a game of skill might succeed in court, with so many opportunities to legally play poker in Missouri the need to use such a defense would be rare.

There have been few busts of illegal games in this State’s history. Players are legally viewed in similar way to the organizers, which is stricter than many other places. The Missouri Statutes even contain law that makes it illegal to earn more than 20% of your income from gambling, with possible prison sentences up to five years. Thankfully no pro-poker players have been found guilty of this in recent years.

Where Can Players Enjoy Live Poker in Missouri

Missouri currently homes eight card rooms across its casinos, with large companies like Harrah’s and Ameristar operating in both Kansas City and St Louis. You can find excellent facilities at these casinos with a range of cash game action, daily scheduled tournaments and even national events like the Heartland Poker Tour.

Home games are legal in Missouri providing no one makes a profit from rake or fees. The State also stipulates that there must be a social connection between participants. This is something which has little in the way of legal definition – so as long as you are not openly advertising your game as an event, it will most likely be ok.

You can also compete in charity tournaments throughout the State and free to enter bar leagues exist which normally award prizes provided by the house.

Online Poker in Missouri

There are no laws specifically banning online poker in Missouri and there has been no discussion in government to clarify an official position on it. Yet with no serious lobbying against there is no reason why future legislation would not pass to regulate online poker. In all likelihood the current legal states of Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware are being watched before any politician in Missouri wishes to step forward with a bill.

Residents in Missouri can still enjoy online poker through the offshore sites that welcome US players. These sites are based mainly in the Caribbean and argue their right to provide games to the US because of international free-trade treaties. While there is legislation in place to prevent many financial transactions going to and from these sites, US citizens are not restricted from playing there.

In Summary – Missouri Poker

After nearly a century of restriction gambling and poker has really come back to Missouri. There are now many high quality rooms where poker players can enjoy a wide range of games, particularly in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Things are quiet regarding online poker in Missouri. As there does not appear to be strong opinions either way and given Missouri’s openness towards gambling, there appears no reason why regulation should not pass when the subject is addressed.